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OpenOffice Indemnification

 
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tacoshell
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2004 1:40 pm    Post subject: OpenOffice Indemnification Reply with quote

Does anyone here know of any official or third-party indemnification?
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DannyB
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 8:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Over on Groklaw, the indemnification FUD appears from time to time.

First, I must make some assumptions since your question lacks specific details. I assume that you mean: if OOo infringes some patent, and your organization is sued, that someone will pay your legal costs to defend, and maybe even any legal liability if any.

Sun might offer indemnification on StarOffice. I simply do not know if they do or not.

Microsoft does offer indemnification on their software. But read the fine print. This was analyzed on Groklaw. You have to agree that Microsoft gets to elect what remedy they will apply to resolve the issue. One of their remedies is to simply remove the offending features from the software. In other words, if XYZ sues YOU for using Microsoft Office, because feature ABC infringes XYZ's patent number 6666666666, Microsoft can elect that an adequate remedy is simply to remove feature ABC from Microsoft Office, and you must accept that remedy. I would ask, how is this different from Open Source software?

Anyone can be sued at any time for almost anything. And yes, you will have to spend money to fight a frivolous lawsuit.

There is also precedent in patent cases that a patent holder must first sue the manufacturer of an infringing good before going after the end purchasers of that good.

If some company decides to start the patent war, they will find it is like starting a nuclear war. Mutually assured destruction. Novell, for instance, has publicly stated that they would use their patent portfolio to defend Linux. (This does not apply to OOo.) I wonder if any powerful corporations, might have an interest in promoting OOo, and might use their patent portfolios against any Redmond based patent wars? Who knows. Maybe Microsoft could start a patent fight over OOo, and nobody would defend OOo? (They could even start such a patent war by using a prSCOxy.)

Microsoft has already been sued for patent infringement concerning commercial software they were selling. (the Timeline suit) My understanding was that MS had a license to use the patent for internal use, and they went further and began selling software that practiced the patented art they had a limited license for.

There are many other tangents I could mention concerning indemnification.

Perhaps OSRM (Open Source Risk Management) would offer insurance against such a suit? (I believe that they do for the Linux kernel. Would they offer similar coverage for OOo?)
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tacoshell
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 1:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DannyB wrote:
Over on Groklaw, the indemnification FUD appears from time to time.

First, I must make some assumptions since your question lacks specific details. I assume that you mean: if OOo infringes some patent, and your organization is sued, that someone will pay your legal costs to defend, and maybe even any legal liability if any.


Indemnification, if any exists as part of what you purchase, is defined in the license (license agreement). Since the GPL, LGPL and SISSL don't define indemnification, I'm left to conclude there isn't any. I acknowledge that perhpas a third party now or in the future may provide indemnification.

Staroffice does provide indemnification. I don't care about Microsoft's indemnification. Groklaw is informed opinion.

I was hoping someone here knew more than you and I combined, but it seems that indemnification looms into the future and I'm afraid we'll all have to wait to see what that really means. I agree with you that Microsoft's indemnification sputterings is marketing related FUD. My informed opinion (by reading other informed opinions) is that Open Source indemnification for the short-term is equivilant to a "Play at your own risk." sign in the arcade at the pizza parlour.

Thanks for your response!
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DannyB
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 2:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think you are right on each point you make, except one. And I'm not certian on this one point. I don't have a reference handy.

I did not expressly state that there is no indemnification on open source packages under open source licenses. That is a fairly sweeping statement to make. No open source package, of anything, anywhere is supported by a vendor who indemnifies you against, for instance, patent threats?

I think that Novell is actually an exception to this. I think in addition to their public statement about using their patents as a defense of Linux, I believe that Novell also does provide indemnification of Linux. (I don't have a reference handy.)

I do not know of any indemnification for OOo.
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tacoshell
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 2:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Right after my previous post, Newsforge comes through with this: http://www.pillsburywinthrop.com/news/pressmention.asp?newsid=000068895441

If you like pure, sweet unadulterated soruce:

October 21, 2004
Risk Management of Free and Open Source Software
http://www.fdic.gov/news/news/financial/2004/FIL11404a.html

This article is saying what I've felt is true: just another thing for business to manage. I don't see indemnification being any sort of EOL.
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tacoshell
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 2:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DannyB wrote:
I did not expressly state that there is no indemnification on open source packages under open source licenses. That is a fairly sweeping statement to make. No open source package, of anything, anywhere is supported by a vendor who indemnifies you against, for instance, patent threats?


No, that was something I was opining upon. That's a potential advantage of doing business with Novell, right? They will indemnify Open Source software that is usually not indemnified under the GPL, LGPL and SISSL. But an OS project that has adopted the GPL (for example) is not offering indemnification, and Microsoft is trying to play that up with FUD. "We indemnify: OS doesn't and we might come after you, maybe." The United States government has issued "guidelines" (my words, not a quote) for managing the risk you take on by using OS. They say it's manageable. I think it's fair to use generalizations as I did and Novell's indemnification seems to be an aberration at this point. I really feel that Microsoft has failed in its attempt to actually harm Redhat, Sun and Novell (through the indemnification FUD), though as the report I cited above suggests the "saber rattling" they have done has slowed adoption of OS which includes everyone not just Novell. It seems indemnification by Novell has marketing and sales potential, but in the great scope of things, Microsoft has a great deal of work to make indemnification matter in the OS community. I could be wrong, but I don't see patent infringements being a battle that any one company is going to win. To challenge you a little in our conversation, I'd be glad to see arguments that show the OS community are going to do what Novell is doing. To get Novell's indemnification, you have to sign a licensing agreement. I know I don't need to point out to you that you don't have to sign anything to do something like use Apache as your web server of choice.

I look forward to yours and others responses in this conversation. Cheers!
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Dark_Knight
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 3:48 pm    Post subject: Re: OpenOffice Indemnification Reply with quote

tacoshell wrote:
Does anyone here know of any official or third-party indemnification?


Novell indemnification protection: http://www.novell.com/licensing/indemnity/

Novell's counter to MS "Get the facts" campaign: http://www.novell.com/linux/truth/
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